- Iris Roley
longtime police accountability activist with the Cincinnati Black United Front. She is the cousin of Kelly Brinson, who died after being tased and restrained by University of Cincinnati police officers in 2010. Two of the police officers involved in her cousin’s death were at the scene of Sam DuBose’s shooting.
Former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing has been released on a $1 million bail after pleading not guilty to the murder of Sam DuBose. Tensing, who is white, fatally shot the 43-year-old African-American man on July 19 after stopping him for not having a front license plate. Two additional officers, Phillip Kidd and David Lindenschmidt, have been placed on administrative leave. Meanwhile, new information shows that Officer Phillip Kidd and another officer on scene during the DuBose shooting were involved in the death of an unarmed African-American man five years earlier. According to documents revealed by The Guardian, Phillip Kidd and Officer Eric Weibel were part of a seven-officer team that tased and shackled a mentally ill man who was having a psychotic episode. We speak to Iris Roley, longtime police accountability activist with the Cincinnati Black United Front. She is the cousin of Kelly Brinson, who died after being tased and restrained by University of Cincinnati police officers in 2010. Two of the police officers involved in Roley’s cousin’s death were at the scene of Sam DuBose’s shooting and later lied to investigators to try to corroborate Officer Ray Tensing’s false claim about being dragged by DuBose’s car.
AMY GOODMAN: A former University of Cincinnati police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black man has been released from jail on a million dollars’ bail, hours after an initial court appearance on Thursday. Twenty-five-year-old Ray Tensing pleaded not guilty in the death of 43-year-old Samuel DuBose, an unarmed African-American man. Officer Tensing appeared before Hamilton County Judge Megan Shanahan.
JUDGE MEGAN SHANAHAN: Ray Tensing, do you understand you have been charged with one count of murder and one count of voluntary manslaughter?
RAY TENSING: Yes, Your Honor.
JUDGE MEGAN SHANAHAN: This defendant has been served. The defendant is facing the possibility of life in prison. It’s the court’s duty to ensure his appearance. The bond will be $1 million any way. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a courtroom. You will conduct yourselves at all time appropriately.
AMY GOODMAN: Officer Ray Tensing shot Sam DuBose on July 19th, after pulling him over for not having a front license plate. Tensing wanted to see Dubose’s driver’s license. When DuBose said he didn’t have it, Tensing made a motion to open Dubose’s car door. Within seconds of this interaction, Officer Tensing’s right hand swung into the video frame with a pistol. He fired a single shot into DuBose’s head, which sent the car, with DuBose dead behind the wheel, rolling down the street, where it crashed to a halt. On Thursday, prosecutors released disturbing footage of the actual shooting.
RAY TENSING: Until I can figure out if you have a license or not, go ahead and take your seat belt off for me.
SAM DUBOSE: I didn’t even do do nothing.
RAY TENSING: Go ahead and take your seat belt off. Stop! Stop!
AMY GOODMAN: Officer Tensing had claimed he was forced to open fire after he was “dragged” by DuBose’s vehicle. But the local prosecutor, Joseph Deters, rejected that claim, saying there’s no evidence the officer was dragged. Deters called the killing “senseless” and “horrible.”
JOSEPH DETERS: I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. This is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make. Totally unwarranted. It was—it’s an absolute tragedy in the year 2015 that anyone would behave in this manner. It was senseless. And I met with the family just moments ago. It’s just horrible.
AMY GOODMAN: The prosecutor, Deters, also said that the whole interaction was based on a, quote, “chicken crap” stop—the police officer stopping Samuel DuBose for not having a front license plate.
Well, on Thursday, two other University of Cincinnati officers, Phillip Kidd and David Lindenschmidt, were placed on administrative leave after being accused of lying that Tensing had been dragged. Newly released police body cam video shows officers discussing the incident with Tensing moments after it happened.
RAY TENSING: I think I’m OK. He was just dragging me.
PHILLIP KIDD: Yeah, I saw that.
RAY TENSING: I thought I was going to get run over. I was trying to stop him. No, he was dragging me, man.
PHILLIP KIDD: You good?
RAY TENSING: I’m good. I just got my hand and my arm caught inside.
PHILLIP KIDD: Yeah, I saw that.
POLICE SERGEANT: You can talk about anything you want except for what happened. For my purposes, for the investigation part of it, I need to know where it started, which is going to be right—it’s at this center on this side of the tape, is that correct?
RAY TENSING: Yes, just south of the back of the intersection of Vale and Rice.
POLICE SERGEANT: And it looks like you got dragged, if I’m looking—
RAY TENSING: Yeah.
POLICE SERGEANT: OK. And it ended up here?
RAY TENSING: I’m sorry?
POLICE SERGEANT: This is our crime scene, right here?
RAY TENSING: Correct.
AMY GOODMAN: Excerpts from the police body cam video released Thursday, edited by The Guardian.
Well, for more, we go to Cincinnati, where we’re joined by Iris Roley, who’s a longtime police accountability activist with the Cincinnati Black United Front. She has been working closely on the Samuel DuBose case and with his family. But her work began more than a decade ago, in 2001, when riots broke out after the wrongful death of two unarmed black men by the Cincinnati Police Department. Roley helped document more than 400 stories of police brutality and misconduct for a class action lawsuit that led to the historic Collaborative Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding between Cincinnati and the Department of Justice.
Well, I want to welcome you to Democracy Now! And if you can start off by talking about, Iris Roley, the family’s reaction at this point, since you watched the video, when it was released, with them.
IRIS ROLEY: Well, good morning. Good morning. The family’s reaction has been far superior to my family’s reaction. We had the same incident with university police with my cousin, Kelly Brinson, in 2010, who was a mental patient and who was tased to death by the university police officers. I have watched this family deal with this with such grace and dignity. It has just been phenomenal. The children have been asking the most appropriate questions, to be children, and they have made me take a step back and think about some things. His sisters and brothers and his friends, they are all trying to honor Samuel DuBose’s legacy by being more like him. They want the community to be peaceful and calm, and to let the process play out. So they have been phenomenally giving gifts to the community even in their time of grief.
AMY GOODMAN: After the indictment of Officer Tensing Wednesday, protesters gathered to demand an end to police britality. Sam DuBose’s nine-year-old son, Samuel, addressed the crowd.
SAMUEL DUBOSE: I feel good that he’s being locked up, because he had shot him, blatantly murdered. He didn’t do nothing but shoot him. He just shot him. Like what is he doing? My daddy, he was just shot at. [inaudible] They just shot him in the head. He didn’t go. He didn’t get caught up in a car. This dude lied. He knew he was going to be on video. He knew he was going to lie. He thought he wasn’t going to get locked up. That’s why they’re charging him for murder.
AMY GOODMAN: That is Samuel DuBose, Samuel DuBose’s son. You know, Samuel DuBose, 43 years old, killed just this past July 19th—it was July 17th, a year ago, that another 43-year-old African-American man, Eric Garner, was killed in Staten Island.
Iris Roley, so now the police officer has met the bond he needed to meet for the $1 million bail. His lawyer said he is raising it hand and fist from people just wanting to give money. What about the other two officers who have now been—what is the word? They have been suspended or placed on administrative leave. Can you talk about them confirming what Tensing said, that he was being dragged, not saying that the man was dead in the car? The car started going after he shot him in the head.
IRIS ROLEY: Yeah, that is extremely difficult for me to imagine that these two officers are not being charged, because they clearly lied. And also, I may add that these same two officers were involved in my cousin’s murder, as well. So there is a lot of evidence that they should no longer be on the force, as well. I think that the university president should have fired them also, as well as the prosecutor charging them with this blatant lie. It’s clear, even though all three officers knew that Officer Tensing had a body camera on, they still chose to lie. And that is very problematic for people who are trying to reform police departments and build stronger community relations with police, in particular the University of Cincinnati’s police department.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, it is very rare for a police officer to be charged for a murder. You heard the cheer break out in the courtroom. Can you talk about the significance—and we just have 10 seconds—of the DA’s very strong response, the immediate indictment for murder, not to mention the mayor backing him up?
IRIS ROLEY: Well, one, the mayor had the same problem in 2001, when he was chair of law and public safety, and that’s when the eruption spilled into the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio—part of his language, too. African Americans in the city of Cincinnati have had a terrible relationship with the prosecutor, Joe Deters. So we are waiting for a conviction. We’re not in celebratory mode. Officer Tensing has bonded himself out. The family is very worried about that, and so is the community. So we’re waiting on a conviction.
AMY GOODMAN: Iris Roley, we hope to speak to you again next week, longtime police accountability activist with the Cincinnati Black United Front.